William Cooke was born at Staveley but lived in Whittington for many years. He was a grocer and labourer at a stone quarry.
William married Hannah Mettam on October 28 1847, Hannah was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Mettam. (I have noticed whilst researching Whittington and the churchyard Mettam was a very well known family of many years in the Whittington area). When they married Williams occupation was labourer.
In 1851 the couple were living with Williams father, Richard Cooke, in Whittington. and William is now classed as a labourer and grocer.
By 1861 the couple six children, but sadly as was the case very often only three children were still living. They went on to have a further three children, all who sadly died in infancy.
William died on 7th May 1875 and is buried in Old Whittington churchyard.
Hannah’s story did not end there. I was intrigued when I came across this gravestone in Old Whittington churchyard.
The gravestone reads:
In Affectionate Remembrance of
Hannah the daughter of William and Hannah Cooke
who died December 9th 1954 aged 9 months
Also of Richard their son who died March 25th 1859
aged 3 years and 4 months
also of four children who died in infancy
Also the above William Cooke
who died May 7th 1875 aged 61 years
Also of Hannah wife of the above who died at East Maitland
New South Wales December 26th 1896 aged 71 years
Also of Thomas youngest son of the above who died at Newcastle
New South Wales June 16th 1910 aged 52 years
The four children who died in infancy were:
Mary born 1850 died 1850
William born 1862 died 1862
Eliza born 1865 died 1865
Annie born 1867 died 1867
Although not uncommon for children to die in infancy, it is still very sad to read and one cannot imagine what the loss was like for William and Hannah.
What was more intriguing was that Hannah died in New South Wales Australia along with her son Thomas.
William left a will leaving everything to his wife Hannah, this will was proved in 1879. Shortly after this advert appeared in the Derbyshire Times on 18th October 1879.
The items listed for sale would indicate that the Cooke family were fairly ‘well to do’. Presumably Mrs Cooke moved with her son Thomas to Australia not long after this sale took place.
It must have been quite a big step and a strenuous journey, and a big change from Old Whittington, Hannah must have been quite a brave lady!
What happened to the remaining two children of the Cooke family Henry and Jane I am not sure. I haven’t found a census record after 1871 for them so it is quite possible that Mrs Cooke took her family to Australia after her husband died.
Thomas married and had a family in Australia, perhaps a descendant may visit Old Whittington one day.